Very readable, albeit with an implausible upbeat ending. This book reminded me a bit of the John Updike Rabbit books. From what I recall, they also featured a central character who was unsure about what he really wanted, was easily distracted and tempted, and was intrinsically lazy. John Lewis, an assistant librarian, in a small Welsh mining town, becomes involved with the flirtatious wife of a successful businessman who has influence over library job appointments. She promises him a guaranteed promotion.
To say that John Lewis doesn't know what he wants is an understatement - and on one level this novel is his journey to some kind of wisdom and self-insight. I suspect the book's themes might have had greater resonance in 1955, when the book was first published: disdain for pretension, self-effacing commentaries, the sense of being stifled by social structures, retreating into alcohol as a coping mechanism, manipulation, hypocrisy, etc.
Despite some weighty themes, in common with [b:Lucky Jim|395182|Lucky Jim|Kingsley Amis|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348513797s/395182.jpg|876732], Kingsley Amis's first novel (and the only other one I have read), this book is very well written, with credible and recognisable characters, and has some amusing moments, including one laugh out loud chapter of high farce. Kingsley Amis appears to really enjoy making fun of his characters, most of whom are flawed and faintly ludicrous. A satisfying, sporadically funny, well written book that is very much of its time.